“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” That’s what I was trying to tell myself an hour after I woke up in one of those great “it’s all going to shit,” moods. “Sure things look bleak, sure money is tight, sure you need a survival job, sure it would be great to book a paid acting gig, sure it seems that things are not going to get better – but that’s ok. It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
Is it? Is it really? Arguably, it’s darkest in the middle of the night when the Moon and stars are obscured by clouds. Sure, one could argue that the middle of the night is, technically, “before dawn.” But then that same idiot must agree that the sunset from the prior day is also, technically, “before dawn.” So where does that leave us?
I don’t know. I’m fairly certain that tomorrow’s sunrise isn’t going to change my employment situation or my financial situation or my “sometimes I’m just a wimpy, whiny, bastard” situation. But there’s always hope for tomorrow. Isn’t there? Fleetwood Mac tells us, “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, don’t stop … it will soon be here. It’ll be, better than before, yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.” I’m a fan of Fleetwood Mac, but I don’t think I should take advice from them. Didn’t they all end up sleeping with each other and destroying multiple marriages? Was that before or after they recorded this song?
Focusing on the tomorrow when life is tough is not an entirely original concept. Especially in song. Little Orphan Annie begs us to think about tomorrow. Maybe I should take her advice. According to that curly, ginger, scamp: just thinking about tomorrow, “Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow.” I don’t know about that Annie. Right now I’m thinking about tomorrow and I can’t get the sound of Nine Inch Nails out of my head: “Every day is exactly the same.” I can’t help but feel that tomorrow, will suck. I’m sure Mr. Trent Reznor would agree.
But Annie persists: “The Sun will come out, tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow.” Bet my bottom dollar? That’s all I have left. Should I bet the last dollar I have? For what? Who would even take that bet? The poor, misguided followers of Harold Camping already bet their top, bottom and middle dollars that the Sun WOULDN’T come out after May 21st. They lost that bet. Whose gonna give me any action on a single green back that the sun will come up tomorrow? No one. That’s not a wise financial investment – and trust me, if I know anything, I know about unwise financial investments.
OK Annie, fine. For the sake of argument, let’s assume someone takes my bet. And let’s assume that the Sun DOES come out tomorrow. Why would that change anything? Won’t it just shed more light on all the crap I’m already suffering with? That won’t help. At all. That would only help if my problems involved a roving gang of vampires. If that was my problem, then Annie, you would be correct. In that case lady, the sun’s coming out would be of great assistance to me.
I see it now: I’m surrounded by hungry, angry vampires. The Vampire Leader – a beautiful, sexy, strong vampire woman named Vanessa – takes a step towards me and says, “There’s nowhere to go blue eyes.” (That’s the pet name she has for me.) “Any last words?” And I, very coolly, say, “How ’bout a last song?” And she smiles, laughs a bit, looks to her gang of the undead, they all laugh, and one of ’em yells, “A song? What is he some kind of fairy?” (He’s the intolerant vampire.) The leader then says to me, “So you wanna vamp it up before we vamp you up?” I give her a look like, “Ohh Vanessa, that was stupid,” then I take a deep breath, and sing: “The sun will come out, tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow …” The vampires are transfixed, puzzled, maybe even a little subdued by my melodious tones. I’m making my way through the song, hoping I remember all the words and wondering why the sun isn’t coming out yet. No, I didn’t think my song was so beautiful that it would draw the sun out, I just happened to look at my watch right before I made my snarky, “How about a last song” comment and I saw that it was 5:59 am. I also happened to know, because earlier I consulted my Farmer’s Almanac App on my iPhone, that sunrise would come at 6:01 am.
But I’m singing and it’s gotta be 6am by now and the sun isn’t coming out. I’m singing, “When I’m stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely,” and there’s a hint of light but not enough. “I just stick out my chin and grin and say …” Then the weirdest thing happens, Vanessa starts singing. Her followers look at her like, “is she loco?” (Did I mention they were Latino vampires?) And then they ALL start singing. They don’t look at the sky they just look at me with big, toothy, fangy smiles and they sing. Loud. And actually, they’re pretty good. Now I’m singing with them, we’re at the chorus, “Just thinking about Tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow,” and Vanessa is walking towards me, and the gang is closing the circle and we are all singing and I’m looking up at the sky and she’s getting closer and I stop singing and they all stop singing. Except for Vanessa, she belts: “I love you tomorrow, you’re only a Daaaaaay Aaaaaaa Wayyyyyyy!!!” While applauding I look to the sky, but there’s no sun. Vanessa puts a clawed hand on my shoulder and says, “Daylight Savings…you forgot to set your clock back, AT&T doesn’t do it automatically.” Before I can say, “Stupid iPhone,” she says “Fear not blue eyes, it’s always darkest before the dawn.” And then she rips my throat out.
See, even in that scenario Annie’s advice is of no use to me. So, no thank you, I will not take Annie’s advice and pin my hopes on tomorrow. The same goes for Fleetwood Mac and even Mr. Reznor. I will neither focus on tomorrow being better nor will I expect that tomorrow will suck as much as today.
But what shall I do? What can I do about this current, less than ideal situation? Live in it. Better yet, live THROUGH it. I will take a breath and regain focus. Instead of promising myself that things will get better tomorrow or next week or next month, I’ll try to love my life for what it is: flawed yet not without its beauty and grace. I will not waste any more energy on panic or fear. I will give help when I can, ask for help when I need it, and rejoice in the light, the darkness and everything in between. I will also try to make sure that the clock on my iPhone is correct. And maybe carry some holy water.